Saturday, 8 June 2019

When dance is not a good practice - Soch: Column by Dr. Arshiya Sethi

In my last column I wrote about how dance is not allowed in certain contexts and nations, and I appealed for remembrance and inclusion. But it is true that while dance mostly has good things going for it, there are circumstances in which it is not desirable. Strange argument coming from someone who has passionately pushed for democratizing dance and increasing its access! But let me explain what I mean.

In my last column, I made an oblique reference to tearing up at the Asian Broadcasting Union's Television Dance Festival's inaugural showcase in Hyderabad in January 2017, on seeing the team from Afghanistan perform Attan. It was a wonderful moment to see this energetic dance from Afghanistan which had, till recently seen the banning of all forms of dance and anyone who defied the ban meeting with fatal consequences. Yet all forms of dance are not empowering. Some are demeaning, disempowering and plain painful. Here are some examples of such situations when dancing is anything but pleasure. If you are wondering, let me hastily tell you that I have in mind the forced dancing by children and young people with little or no agency where sexual abuse follows, the cruel training of dancing animals, and highly dangerous, thrill seeking dance videos that are trending on social media. So despite us just having celebrated World Dance Day, these examples convinced me that I must write on those sad occasions when dancing ceases to be a pleasure.

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